Loan #9: Flexibility vs. Standardization
By Andrew ’15
It’s tax season in America. For those living paycheck-to-paycheck, that means a one-time bump in income from their tax refund gives them some short-lived breathing room.
It’s also winter in America, and a brutal winter at that. Beside heightened heating costs, many workers have also lost wages as hours have been canceled due to the cold and snow.
Both these national trends were at play as we made Loan #9 two weeks ago. Our client was looking for a loan to help make up for wages lost due to work cancellations. She came in with a repayment plan already in mind, hoping to pay back the loan with the tax refund she will soon receive. Knowing that she would receive a refund significantly larger than the principal and interest on the loan, we felt the loan was feasible. Furthermore, her tax preparation and accounting experience and overall character left us feeling confident in her ability to repay.
We made the loan, and our client was very grateful to have funds that would tide her over until the tax refund arrived. Having had the privilege of working with JIFFI since its founding nearly 2 years ago, making my first loan was an incredibly rewarding experience.
Besides being indicative of national trends, Loan #9 also demonstrates the tension between flexibility and standardization that is inherent to JIFFI’s work. While we try to streamline the process by which we service clients and determine loan structure, not everything can remain set in stone. With Loan #9, we tweaked our standard loan structure to accommodate the tax refund and moved efficiently through the underwriting process, so that we could meet with the client during her break between jobs. This flexibility, guided by the structure of our standard procedures, will be crucial as we attempt to best serve clients living paycheck-to-paycheck.